November 17, 2023
I am always anxiously awaiting the start of the fall seasons. Like a lot of you, I chased some other stuff around this past spring and summer. Turkeys are fun to hunt, and bowfishing is a blast, but if I’m being honest, nothing quite compares to the fall.
I eased the string back slowly, trying my best not to make any hasty movements. I was on a moose hunt, and this was just the opportunity I was looking for. I picked a spot as I drew and released, and my Muzzy broadhead-tipped arrow flashed through the air, followed by a puff of feathers. The grouse fluttered straight down and stopped moving. I was elated, because I knew I was going to be eating good that night back at my wall-tent camp.
A moose would have been nice, but I hadn’t seen one that day. I did, however, see lots of grouse, including the one I just described shooting. I also love to eat wild game, and sometimes it’s small game, or no game at all — if you know what I mean.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t get a moose, or even a shot at one on that trip. But I did get to enjoy some wild grouse, and I shot my bow a lot, which is always part of the fun of any hunt for me. So, did I consider that moose hunt a successful one? Heck yes! I was hunting moose and grouse, and I was 50-percent successful. Or, as I like to look at things, I was 100 percent on the grouse hunt…the moose were just lucky.
I find success in whatever I can get with my bow. I have realized over the years that I have so much success because I shoot at everything I legally can. Sometimes, that may be slipping out to a pond or along a creek or river and making frogs my main focus. It’s lots of shooting, and if I can hit a frog consistently, it increases my confidence that I will make a good shot on a deer or other big-game animal. The bonus is that frog legs are also delicious.
I have some buddies who practice every day and shoot small game with me only up to when the fall seasons start. Then, they only shoot their bow if a deer, elk, or some other big-game animal comes by.
I am the opposite. Sometimes, I have been guilty of spooking deer I didn’t even know were around because I couldn’t help but try to shoot a squirrel to fry up for camp dinner. I can also turn a slow deer hunt into a rabbit, quail, pheasant, or duck hunt by just harvesting what is tasty, in season, and plentiful in numbers.
For gear, most of the time I use whatever I am using for big game. I usually have a practice broadhead in my quiver that may be a little duller than the others and that I wouldn’t use on a deer. But for a squirrel, a dull broadhead doesn’t make a difference, so long as the broadhead is the same size as the squirrel’s chest. I will also sometimes carry a few Judo points in my pack, or even some fieldpoints. I like fieldpoints for frogs, and I usually only go with broadheads for larger birds like geese, grouse, ducks, or pheasants. For quail, I will usually use a Judo point, so my arrow doesn’t disappear in the brush.
If I am going specifically for birds that I might be shooting in the air, or for squirrels where I am shooting from the ground up into a tree, I will often use flu-flu arrows, which by design prevent my missed shots from resulting in a lost arrow. I have built my own flu-flu arrows, but it takes some work, so I prefer to have the crew at 3Rivers Archery make some up for me.
Some people think of small game as being something to go after only when big game isn’t in season. I prefer to hunt all year — so long as it’s legal — to keep my shooting skills sharp, and tasty meat on my family’s dinner plates!
Don’t get me wrong, I’d shoot a deer over a squirrel if I had a shot at both at the same time. But I also won’t hesitate to go after whatever is in season when I have my bow in my hand.